A classic Negroni is made with equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. It’s simple to make: pour over ice, and you’ve got a smooth cocktail with a bite, designed to stimulate the appetite, and start the evening right (although a Negroni is delicious at any time of day). The drink was invented when Count Camillo Negroni requested an Americano with more kick while on a night out in Florence in 1919.
The simple recipe can get infinitely more complex as you go down the rabbit hole of choosing the perfect ingredients for your taste, budget, and occasion. The growing availability of bitter, red aperitifs is challenging the Campari status quo, and there are plenty of excellent varieties of fortified, aromatized wine. But choosing gin is a great place to start your Negroni journey, and can be dizzying with so many solid options. We did the legwork—here are the best gins for a stellar Negroni.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Gray Whale Gin
750 ml / 43% ABV
- You can feel good as you sip your cocktail: Gray Whale Gin supports ocean conservation through a partnership with 1% for the Planet and Oceana
- Small batch, family-owned business in California
- The herb-forward, dry style is not for everyone
Why we chose it: This gin’s big, smooth flavor shines in a Negroni. The botanicals create a well-balanced profile, and the viscosity of the almonds counteracts the bitterness of the Campari resulting in a delicious, balanced cocktail.
Gray Whale Gin tastes like California in a glass. “We achieve this by using ingredients found along the 12,000-mile migratory path of the Gray Whale,” explain Marsh and Jan Mokhtari, founds of Gray Whale. “Our gin is perfected with 6-sustainably sourced botanicals – juniper, sea-kelp, almonds, lime, fir, and mint – some of which are wild-foraged.”
Each botanical serves a purpose: Juniper from Big Sur adds a delicate cedar quality, sea kelp from the Mendocino Coast provides an earthy umami texture, and almonds from the Capay Valley impart a wonderful creaminess and a long, lingering finish. You might even taste some cool sweetness, which comes from Santa Cruz mint. If you like gins with an herbaceous, dry style, you’ll want to give Gray Whale a place on your bar.
Marsh Mokhtari's personal favorite Negroni recipe is 2 parts gray whale gin, 1/2 parts sweet vermouth, and 1/2 parts Campari. Garnishes it with a grapefruit peel and serve it ice cold, up.
Best Budget: Gordon's London Dry Gin
Available in multiple sizes / 37.5% ABV
- Quality gin for a great price
- A classic gin with a bold flavor
- Bold juniper can taste overpowering
Why we chose it: This super smooth gin is bold, with zesty notes of citrus and plenty of juniper. In a Negroni, Campari, and vermouth smooth out the big flavors and create a delicious, cohesive sip.
Alexander Gordon started distilling gin in 1769 in London, and today Gordon’s uses the same triple distillation process and traditional recipe. The details are a closely guarded secret (only about a dozen people are in the know), but the distinctive, refreshing taste comes from a generous amount of handpicked juniper, fresh coriander, and angelica. The bold, beloved flavor and the incredibly affordable price tag make Gordon’s the world’s best-selling London Dry gin. It’s pretty straightforward, which can be a definite plus.
Best Top Shelf: Ferdinand's Saar Goldcap Dry Gin
Best Top Shelf
500 ml / 44% ABV
- Comes in a gorgeous bottle and box - makes a lovely gift
- Crafted by award-winning winemakers with a terroir-driven, beautiful array of botanicals
- Can be hard to find, made only seasonally
- Some may say it’s too special to mix into a cocktail
Why we chose it: A true one-of-a-kind gin with a citrus brightness that adds wonderful character to any Negroni.
Ferdinand's Saar Goldcap Dry Gin is made only once a year on the steep slopes of Germany’s 275-year-old Zilliken Winery. It’s crafted with a unique lineup of botanicals: juicy pears, cocoa beans, acacia shoots, Mirabelle plums, and the vineyard’s Riesling grapes. The result is a remarkable, fruit-forward spirit with a touch of chocolate peppermint, the earthy fragrance of thyme, and bright, nuanced fruitiness. There’s a note of fir on the finish, but it’s less juniper-forward than many gins.
It’s subtle and gorgeous enough to sip on its own or mix into a truly special occasion Negroni. This esoteric gin will turn your Negroni into a complex drink worth savoring.
Best Australian: 36 Short Blood Orange Gin
500 ml / 45% ABV
- Citrus and spice is a great compliment to a negroni
- Small batch, family company
- Relatively expensive
Why we chose it: This small batch Gin from South Australia tastes like summertime in a glass. The spicy citrus lift and sweetly herbaceous aromatics make this a perfect fit for nearly any negroni.
Orange peel is a classic negroni garnish, which makes blood orange gin a welcome spirit addition to pretty much any negroni. Especially 36 Short’s, made with blood oranges and lemons picked straight from their farm in Adelaide’s northern outskirts. There’s a hint of fresh pine and sticky resin, and the citrus zing is balanced by cardamom, cinnamon, juniper berry, and coriander.
Made by brothers Jon and Con Lioulio, this gin is crafted by distilling grape spirits in a copper pot still. It’s gentle yet full of personality, with a surprising amount of finesse that shines through when mixed with Campari and vermouth (or just sipped over ice).
Best Japanese: Ki No Bi Kyoto-Style Dry Gin
700 ml / 45.7% ABV
- Unique Japanese botanicals deliver lovely flavor
- Beautiful bottle and packaging
- Quite pricy
Why we chose it: Distilled, blended and bottled in Kyoto with Japanese botanicals, the name Ki No Bi means The Beauty of the Seasons. Carefully made to emphasize harmony, this gin delivers a harmonious smoothness to Negronis.
The Kyoto Distillery starts with a base of rice spirit, and then distills them in groups corresponding to their flavor profile: yuzu and lemon impart a puckering citrus zing; juniper, orris, and Hinoki, a Japanese cypress, add a pleasant earthy element; ginger and sansho pepper bring spice; and shiso and bamboo leaves give the gin a floral elegance. The result is multidimensional yet wonderfully clean-tasting.
Ki No Bi Kyoto-Style Dry Gin tastes earthy, cool, citrus-forward, and will leave you wanting another sip, and then another. A distinctive Japanese take on gin, this spirit creates a fresh, flavorful Negroni.
Best Pink: Kyro Pink Gin
500 ml / 38.2% ABV
- Adds both sweetness and spice
- Brings an unexpected flavor to your cocktail
- Pink gin has a distinctive taste that's not for every palate
Why we chose it: With the sweetness of the berries and rhubarb balancing the spicy, herbal notes from the spirit itself, this Finnish gin has a creamy texture that plays nicely in a Negroni.
Originally “pink gin” meant regular gin gussied up with a splash of angostura bitters. These days, pink gins are infused with fruit, herbs, and spices to give them a gorgeous rosy hue—think strawberries, rhubarb, and rose petals. They can add a welcome freshness to Negronis, with a pleasant freshly ground pepper bite on the finish.
Kyrö Pink Gin is a traditionally made small batch rye gin, infused with foraged lingonberries, strawberries and rhubarb from Finnish forests and gardens. It has rounded notes of vanilla, ripe strawberry, and bracing sour lingonberry.
Best London Dry: Oxley London Dry Gin
Best London Dry
700 ml / 47% ABV
- Small batch, smooth and refreshing
- Cold distilled with their patented method for tons of flavor
- Expensive, can be hard to find
Why we chose it: This gin packs a punch, which makes it a strong candidate for a Negroni. There’s plenty of fresh kick that cuts through the bittersweet combo of sweet vermouth and Campari.
This vibrant gin is made cold, at Oxley’s -5°C in their patented cold distillation method, which takes place in a vacuum. Cool enough to nerd out about, this process helps all of the flavors shine through. 14 herbs and botanicals, including fresh frozen citrus peel, give this spirit a zesty kick that will jolt you—and your Negroni—awake.
Made in small batches and presented in individually numbered bottles, this gin feels special. Only 240 bottles are produced each day, making Oxley London Dry a distinctive treat.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Gin for Negroni
“Campari is such a dominating ingredient with a bittersweet flavor profile,” say the Mokhtaris. “The gin you use in a Negroni really needs to stand up to this potent punch, otherwise it can easily get dominated by the bitterness.” There is no such thing as a great Negroni without high-quality gin at the heart of it.
When it comes to choosing gin, there are plenty of variations, from the way the spirit is distilled to the wide scope of flavor possibilities that comes with nearly limitless choice in botanicals. Most but not all include juniper, which gives gin its signature pine essence, but no two brands have the exact same combination of botanicals. Classic London Dry styles impart bold juniper spice, lighter New Western Dry gins bring a more delicate, floral touch, and plenty of unique styles add something different altogether.
Quality gin highlights out the aroma and flavor of the botanicals added during the spirit’s redistillation process. The best gins add up to more than the sum of their botanical parts—they are nuanced, multilayered spirits with wonderful depth and personality.
When it comes to choosing the optimal gin for Negronis and beyond, so much comes down to personal preference—taste, taste, and taste some more to discover what you like best.
What goes well with Negronis?
A Negroni’s bracing bitterness shines alongside foods with bold flavors—think an antipasti platter with cured meats, briny olives, and sharp cheeses (provolone, pecorino, and Parmesan are great picks). It’s also a solid accompaniment to sip with pizza.
What glasses do I need for negronis?
A rocks glass, also called an old-fashioned glass, is the classic way to serve a Negroni (on the rocks, of course). You could also pour your cocktail into a squat glass tumbler. Garnish with orange peel.
What can I use as a substitute for a gin in Negroni?
You could sub prosecco for a lower ABV Negroni Sbagliato, or bourbon for a Boulevardier. For a lighter summer drink, replace gin with a swig of seltzer water to make an Americano.
There are more fantastic gins available than ever before, and choosing the best one for your Negroni can feel overwhelming. The good news: if you love the gin, you can’t go wrong. Whatever your style and price point, you’ll be able to find a gin that makes your Negroni sing. Cheers!